stretch girl

May Abacus: STRETCH

Giants and Pilgrims’ “Abacus” is a creative home curriculum centered on a monthly theme. This month’s theme is STRETCH! Think all things stretchy, the “final stretch”, and stretching your body.

Read all about how to use this list and our heart behind this project here.

Below is our comprehensive activities list. Choose a couple to do with your kids to enrich the month or try to accomplish the whole list! What would you add? I would love to hear your ideas and plans for the month.

Dates in May to take note of/celebrate:

May 1 = May Day
May 4 =Star Wars Day (May the 4th be with you)
May 5 = Teachers Day
May 5 = Cinco de Mayo
May 9 = Lost Sock Memorial Day (poor poor socks…)
May 9 = National Train Day (if you are in greeley, how about a trip to the Train Museum!) – We have an epic adventure planned on this one….
May 10 = Mother’s Day
May 14 = Dance Like a Chicken Day
May 15 = National bike to work day
May 25 = Memorial Day (we love to go to the Bolder Boulder – even if just to observe)

May is also National Bike Month and National Barbecue Month – both of which we plan on taking full advantage. For all the Graduations, print out our free Graduation card. Also, I just discovered it is national physical fitness and sports month – perfect for our “Stretch” theme!

 

Our List of “Stretch” Activities:

P.E.:

The number one thing I want to do this month is follow this weekly family workout calendar I made. May just seems to me like a get up and move kind of month.

Monday: Family Run – for us, this looks like one person running with the stroller. We shall see if it works or not…

Tuesday: Fitness Blender (a workout video website)
We will either do this stretching one (although it does cost 6.99) or this one that is free 🙂

Wednesday: Morning walk

Thursday: Bike Ride – still working on this one too since Harriet can’t quite ride by herself. Ideas?

Friday: Outside Workout – I think we will do this one.

Saturday: Morning Kids Yoga – our girls LOVE these yoga videos from Cosmic Kids Yoga.

Here is a quick printable reminder card:
May weekly workout

Head to an outdoor running track and play – races, pretend track meet events, etc.

 

Practice the girls dances for their recital (and mine!)

WATCH:

Family inspirational Sports Movies that deal with the “Final Stretch”:

Cool Runnings
Sea Biscuit
Chariots of Fire
National Velvet
The Karate Kid
A League of Their Own
may movies

 

SCIENCE:

Make all the slimes! Bouncy balls, silly putty, slime, gak, and goopy stuff (learn about the properties of polymers)

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Get this make your own chewing gum kit
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IN THE KITCHEN:

Make Pizza dough
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Make homemade saltwater taffy

Make homemade mozzarella cheese

MUSIC:

Make different kids of rubber band instruments 

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Get some instruments into the kids hands to just get a feel for them – Trombone (Trombone Shorty, etc.), etc.

ART/CRAFT:

Visit the Denver Art museum (now free for kids) to see the Joan Miro exhibit with studio time (through June 28) – “stretching” your imagination
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Make balloon string balls

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Paint Stretch Wrap watercolor paintings

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READ:

Shel Silverstien – Twistable Turnable Man
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Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild
Maniac Mcgee by Jerry Spinelli
Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand (for me)

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PLAY:

Fly a kite

Play Twister (I like this outside garden version!)
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Play with Slinkys 

BUILD:

A rubber band nail board (pre drill holes for fun hammering practice)

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Make a Sling Shot
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Some of these might be a bit of a “stretch”, but we are pretty excited to jump in and start May.

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Abacus “Grow” Round Up

April: Grow

I can’t believe it is April 28th already. Time does seem to fly by these days. But, we have been doing lots of “Grow”ing around here. The theme for this month’s Abacus project was “Grow” (ABACUS is our creative home curriculum centered on a theme). It was the perfect theme for a lovely sunshine and rain kind of April. To see the whole list of projects we came up with (and resources) check out our original post, here.

First of all, we had a lovely Easter celebration – both at home, and in Denver. (Tim is missing from this photo because he was in Denver running the Easter services there)
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Just look at these two silly bunnies (they INSISTED on wearing their bunny suits to the egg hunts).
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We ended the day with a spring dinner outside in our garden. It was lovely. (At which we made these very yummy biscuits)
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We visited Baby Animal Days at Centennial Village
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We have a whole set of CD case bean sprouts growing in our window right now. The roots are now visible. Harriet is our official water-er.

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The girls and I have been planting all kinds flowers out in our garden. On days like these, it’s pretty hard to be inside.
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We grew a baby pool full of water beads. We experimented with adding food coloring to make them colored – which worked great. The girls played with them for hours and then eventually smushed them into oblivion.
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Lucy and I are about half way through The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. She absolutely loves it. Harriet does not 🙂 But that is because she is 3. Lucy has all sorts of plans for making a secret garden of her own.
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Lucy started on a Garden quilt, but quickly lost interest. She maybe cut out 6 squares. But, we have the pieces tucked away for the next rainy day.IMG_3764

I started a homemade braided rug. I have been LOVING the process. Delightfully mindless but satisfying. I am about halfway through my fabric scraps. Its going to take longer than I thought to make it the size I was hoping, but I can’t wait.


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We have a large tree growing up our dining room wall. I posted the image I compiled to make the tree if you want to use it. I tiled it and then got cheap blueprint 24X24 copies made. The girls and I used pastels and watercolors to paint it.

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grow tree
We haven’t built the growth chart I wanted to make yet, but we have built frames for some paintings and a sweet little fairy house thanks to my dad’s wood working skills. We also bought all the lumber for our garden archway project, but haven’t made any progress on the actual build. My goal is to have it put together by the time my cucumber vines need somewhere to climb.

We grew our growing crystal tree and some funny grow fish my mom got for the girls.

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We listened to lots of spring music this month –
-Our April Showers playlist

-Our new Birdie Mix

-The Secret Garden Broadway Soundtrack (which Lucy has really enjoyed because it has bits of story element that she connects with the book we are reading)
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-And Elizabeth Mitchell’s Sunny Day CD – just the sweetest kids folk music ever made
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The girls emptied out their piggy banks, we spent some time talking about the different coins and what they are worth. Then, we went to the bank and cashed the change in (23 dollars!) – learning about how banks work. Finally, we went to Target where the girls each picked out and paid for a Lego set that was in their price range. Pretty great.
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Lucy did several pages of “homework” that involved lots of measuring practice.

We are not the kind of family that worries too much about our kids being “behind.” However when it comes to coordination and “sportsy” type activities, we are pretty lacking. Harriet still can’t figure out how to pedal a tricycle so we are working on it 🙂
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We picked wild asparagus  – although not very much.

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A couple of days ago I was hurrying to finish up a commissioned painting and Tim was signed up to be the helper at Harriet’s preschool. So, I set up an easel in the middle of our garden beds and told Lucy to paint what she saw. She dug in a created the most lovely garden masterpiece. Claude Monet would have been proud. It was a peaceful session of plein air painting for both of us.

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We still want to visit a Garden center, finish our garden arch and grow chart, and hopefully paint on some flower pots. But, my what a lovely April it has been.

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Documenting the Creative Process: a Weekly Photo Series

Here are some bits and pieces from our creative process this last week:

I finished up a sweet poster design for the band the Burroughs.  They are doing a LIVE recording at the Moxi theater on May 8th & 9th. We were going for an old school Art Deco feel of a downtown greeley street. My artwork will also be used as their album cover and a T-shirt (and tank-top!).
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tshirt mock up

 

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Tim and Charla Bultman are working on the beginnings of a stellar new project, details still to be announced. But as the person who gets to hear all the songs in their infancy stage, its going to be incredible.

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Harriet (and Lucy) have been creating and coloring all kinds of chalk murals on our driveway. Thank you sunshine.

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I also finished up this Alaska painting for a wonderful couple in town. They spend half their year in Alaska near this really cool mine. Lots of fun symbolism in the various imagery – including the newspaper which is an Alaska paper from the 40’s we found in the crawl space of our house when we moved in

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Whipped up some quick series artwork for Atlas Churchs spring series “Changed”

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Figuring out how many animals I can cut out of a piece of plywood 🙂 Project still TBA….
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“Birdie” A Curated Playlist of Spring ‘Bird’ songs

We made a playlist of “bird” songs after watching all the little birdies outside our window.

1. Surfin Bird – The Trashmen

2. Rockin’ Robin

3. Happy Working Song – Amy Adams

4. Blackbird – Sarah McLachlan

5. Norwegian Wood – Heather Nova

6. Little Bird, Little Bird – Elizabeth Mitchell

7. Birdie Brain – the Fiery Furnaces

8. I’ll Be Yr Bird – M. Ward

9. Bird on a Wire – Johnny Cash

10. Carol of the Birds – Mormon Tabernacle

11. Free Bird – Lynard Skynyrd

My Two Very Favorite Biscuit Recipes

Photo credit is to Bon Appetit (Rosa’s Biscuits) – whenever I make these I seem to be to busy stuffing them into my mouth to take a picture.


There are two kinds of biscuits – ones that you put toppings on and ones that you don’t. As much as my husband would like to argue there is a third kind that comes in a can, he is wrong. This first recipe acts as a perfect vehicle for toppings – sausage gravy, salted butter and strawberry jam, maple cream (if you are so lucky), homemade apple butter, etc. In this case, I want a thick simple biscuit, served right out of the oven, split in half and slathered with whichever toppings I have on hand. In this case, the biscuit I want is my mother’s (which is adapted from Better Homes & Gardens).

Preheat oven to 450°. In a bowl stir together flour, baking powder, sugar, cream of tartar, and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs (you can do this in the food processor if you want). Make a well in the center; add milk all at once. Stir just till dough clings together. On a lightly floured surface, knead dough gently for 10-12 strokes. Roll or pat dough to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut with a 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter (a drinking glass works great), dipping cutter into flour between cuts (my kiddos like shaped cookie cutters). Transfer biscuits to a baking sheet. Bake in a 450° oven for 9-11 minutes or until golden on the edges. Serve warm with butter and toppings. Makes 10.


This second biscuit recipe is the kind of thing I would want to have with a cup of tea in the afternoon. If you were coming over to my house for an afternoon chat, or in need of a little extra love, I would make you these. They are buttery, salty, and crispy on the outside, and sweet and tender on the inside. They need absolutely no adornments – just eat them the way they are. They are little pillows of magic. We made two pans of these for Easter dinner this year. There wasn’t a single one left. You must eat these while still warm out of the oven. Fortunately, the prepped pan of biscuits freezes great. You can make them ahead of time and then bake when ready.

Note: This recipe is Rosa’s almost exactly except that I cut down the sugar a bit.

Ingredients

SERVINGS: MAKES 24

  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt, plus more
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces; plus 6 Tbsp. (¾ stick), melted
  • ¾ cup chilled buttermilk

 Preparation

  • Preheat oven to 350°. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and 1½ tsp. salt in a large bowl. Add chilled butter and toss to coat. Work butter into flour mixture with your fingers until mixture resembles coarse meal with several pea-size pieces of butter remaining.
  • Using a fork, gently mix in buttermilk, then gently knead just until dough comes together (do not overmix).
  • Pinch off pieces of dough and gently roll into 1” balls; place on 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing 2” apart (you should have about 24). If butter softens too much while you are working, chill dough until firm before baking, 15–20 minutes.
  • Bake biscuits until golden brown, 25–30 minutes. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with more salt (I use flaky sea salt). Serve warm.

    Recipe adapted from Rosa Pacheco, Del Posto, NYC, Photograph by Dustin Aksland – published in Bon Appetit, 2014

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Documenting the Creative Process: a Weekly Photo Series

Here are some of our projects we have been working on and some snippets of our artistic process from the last couple weeks.

I submitted a design for the city of Greeley Manhole cover design contest

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Tim has been continuing recording on our new album “Becoming” and working on another still to be titled album. One song uses this sweet antique musical organ toy.

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I’m in the middle of this commission depicting a mine in Alaska. Still has a long ways to go 🙂

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I made a whole series of little sunprint bags for John Galt’s Boutique

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And finally, I have been working on an Art Deco poster and CD cover for the new Burroughs live album!

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grow

April Abacus: Grow

April: Grow

Giants and Pilgrims’ “Abacus” is a creative home curriculum centered on a monthly theme. This month’s theme is GROW!
Read all about how to use this list and our heart behind this project here.

Below is our comprehensive activities list. Choose a couple to do with your kids to enrich the month or try to accomplish the whole list! What would you add? I would love to hear your ideas and plans for the month.

Dates in April to take note of/celebrate:

April 3rd = Good Friday
April 5th = Easter
April 15th = Tax Day
April 15th = Holocaust Remembrance Day
April 22 = Earth Day
April 24th = Arbor Day

Greeley Calendar (if you are local):

Baby Animal Days at Centennial Village
April 3-12, from 9 a.m.-noon and 1-3 p.m.
Admission: $2.50/person for ages 3+

City of Greeley Easter Egg Hunt at Lincoln Park
Saturday, April 4th, 10 am, Ages 0-12

Northern Colorado Children’s Festival, Saturday April 11th
Island Grove Event Center, 10am-3pm

Our List of “Grow” Activities:

Garden:

Grow CD case sprouts
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Let the girls each pick out a seed packet of flowers to grow in their garden (last year we made them a small raised bed of their own.)
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Plant all our garden seeds, clear out beds and planters, and tend them well.
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Play:

Grow a baby pool full of water beads. We have played with these before and they are Oh so fun.
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Read:

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
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And color and play with this “Secret Garden” book by Johanna Basford

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Check out a stack of garden books from the library

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Home:

Sew a little garden quilt (Lucy has been begging me to teach her how to sew her own quilt.) We will make a very simple checkerboard one. Hopefully the perfect size for a picnic in the grass. Something like this: (although knowing Lucy it will be pink pink pink with a dash of purple).
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Start a homemade braided rug – first involves making lots of scrap balls. I am going to use the directions from a Handmade Home by Amanda Soule. I’m thinking this will be a great way to manage my fabric scraps that have been building up. I will definitely sort by color in some way…
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Make a paper Tree to put on our wall to decorate and add to.

Build:

Make our own artistic rendering of a Grow chart. There are all sorts of DIY for simple ruler ones on the internet, but I particularly like this one from Brooklyn Limestone.

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Make this garden archway for the entrance to our garden:
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Science:

Grow bacteria cultures and maybe a bread mold lab
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And since I’m starting a science lab, what about using cultures to make my own cheese? Or maybe keep it simple and try this one

Learn more about the Human body – how hair grows, cell growth, etc.
Lucy has been loving Magic school bus (this episode about the body in particular)
Any other book recommendations for kids about the body?
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Make our growing crystal tree (only 2.99 here) I picked up at Moon Marble Mayhem.

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Microwave Ivory Soap (if you haven’t tried this already, it’s fabulous and GROWS like crazy.) Then, what to do with it…. hmmmm…snowman-soap-experiment-step-2

Listen to:

Ravel’s Bolero (he takes one theme and grows it)
Our April Showers playlist
The Secret Garden Broadway Soundtrack

Math:

Learn about money and how accounts can “grow”
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Learn about measuring and rulers

History:

Visit the Greeley History Museum and learn about how towns grow

Outside:

Dig for worms and learn about animal regeneration

Work on a new outdoor activity skill (Lucy riding without training wheels, Hattie pedaling, me running)

Visit a Garden center (in greeley, we love Eaton Gardens and Happy Life Gardens)

Pick wild asparagus – we went out last week and found some, but it wasn’t quite big enough. But it is there! If you aren’t in CO, what grows native in your area that you can forage for?

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Watch:

Peter Pan (never grow up)
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Art:

Paint on terra cotta pots

Introduce the kids to plein air painting (maybe on a nature trail somewhere, or at a garden center?)

april 2015 desktop

April 2015 Desktop and iPhone Wallpaper

Last year Tim wrote this about April –

April is a smile
a spark
an epiphany
a new dawn

These days are given to
the pranksters

the believers
the early risers
Bright mornings, bright ideas, bright souls
Because with every rain there’s a clearing
And a new sun to enjoy

Here is a “bright” new desktop for your computer and iphone. A toast to new “Growth.” Click the small thumbnail below to download the large sized file. For the iphone wallpaper, navigate to this page on your phone and then click and hold on the iphone images. Select ‘Save image to camera roll’. Then from your camera roll set your home screen/lock screen. Enjoy!

For iPhones:

iphone april
Click the thumbnail below to download the large sized desktop wallpaper:
april 2015 desktop